Oral history interview with Philip Simmons
Portions of this collection are digitized

Summary
Collection ID:
AAA.simmon01
Creators:
Simmons, Philip, 1912-2009
Douglas, Mary F., 1956-
Nanette L. Laitman Documentation Project for Craft and Decorative Arts in America
Dates:
2001 April 4-5
Languages:
English
.
Physical Description:
30 Pages
Transcript
Repository:

Scope and Contents
Scope and Contents
An interview of Philip Simmons conducted 2001 April 4-5, by Mary Douglas, for the Archives of American Art's Nanette L. Laitman Documentation Project for Craft and Decorative Arts in America, in Simmons' home and workshop, Charleston, South Carolina.
Scope and Contents
Simmons speaks of his childhood and early education; jobs shining shoes and delivering papers at age 8; also at age 8, working as an apprentice to Peter Simmons in his blacksmith shop on Calhoun Street; Philip Simmons's attraction to blacksmithing and the action of the shop; being hired by Peter Simmons at age 13 in the blacksmith's shop where he has worked for 79 years. He also describes his apprenticeship and talks about blacksmithing as an ongoing learning experience; the necessity of adapting skills to an evolving market, from making wagons and horse shoes to ornamental iron work, and equipment for cargo shipments; the affect of the economic boom after World War II; drawing inspiration from nature and "God's creations in Charleston" for design ideas; working with wrought iron, mild steel, brass, and lead; making his own tools; craft as a representation of the past; giving demonstrations at the Smithsonian's Folklife Festival in Washington, D.C. in 1976 and 1977 (through John Vlach's invitation) and a gate he made at the festival that was purchased by the Smithsonian and featured in Southern Living; his 1982 lunch with Ronald Reagan on the occasion of receiving a National Folk Award; meeting other blacksmiths through the Southeastern Regional Blacksmith Conference; the public's understanding and reception of blacksmithing; recognition, awards, and publicity for his work; involvement with craft educational programs at schools, museums, and churches; the function of the Philip Simmons Foundation; blacksmithing in Charleston as a national tourist attraction; the relationship of farming and blacksmithing by slaves to his own blacksmithing; the impact of travel on his work; working with Ira DeKoven; his interest in preserving traditions; corporate versus private commissions; the importance of mechanical drawing skills; preserving old piece, salvage work; his retirement because of arthritis; current interest in sketching and drawing; family life with his wife and three children; and his involvement with the community.

Biographical / Historical
Biographical / Historical
Philip Simmons (1912-2009) was a blacksmith from Charleston, South Carolina. Mary Douglas (1956- ) is the curator at the Mint Museum of Craft and Design in Charlotte, North Carolina.

Administration
Sponsor
Funding for this interview was provided by the Nanette L. Laitman Documentation Project for Craft and Decorative Arts in America. Funding for the digital preservation of this interview was provided by a grant from the Save America's Treasures Program of the National Park Service.
Immediate Source of Acquisition
This interview is part of the Archives of American Art Oral History Program, started in 1958 to document the history of the visual arts in the United States, primarily through interviews with artists, historians, dealers, critics and administrators.

General
General
Originally recorded on 2 sound cassettes. Reformatted in 2010 as 4 digital wav files. Duration is 2 hr., 7 min.

Digital Content

Using the Collection
Conditions Governing Access
For more information on how to access this interview contact Reference Services.

Keywords
Keywords table of terms and types.
Keyword Terms Keyword Types
Blacksmithing -- Equipment and supplies Topical Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Blacksmithing -- Study and teaching Topical Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Blacksmithing -- Technique Topical Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Blacksmiths -- South Carolina -- Charleston -- Interviews Topical Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Decorative arts Topical Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Ironworkers -- South Carolina -- Charleston -- Interviews Topical Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Metal-workers -- South Carolina -- Charleston -- Interviews Topical Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Interviews Genre Form Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Sound recordings Genre Form Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
DeKoven, Ira Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Philip Simmons Foundation, Inc. Corporate Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Southeastern Blacksmith Association Corporate Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Nanette L. Laitman Documentation Project for Craft and Decorative Arts in America Corporate Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Festival of American Folklife Corporate Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid

Repository Contact
Archives of American Art
750 9th Street, NW
Victor Building, Suite 2200
Washington, D.C. 20001
https://www.aaa.si.edu/services/questions
https://www.aaa.si.edu/